Drunk driver jailed over fatal crash

By Rebecca Quilliam, Alison King -
Darlene Fiveash and her sons Steven (left) and Henry (right). Photo / Stephen Parker
Darlene Fiveash and her sons Steven (left) and Henry (right). Photo / Stephen Parker

Trent Robertson was drunk, had been smoking cannabis and was driving a car with home modifications at speeds of up to 130km/h when he lost control, crashing into a fencepost and flipping the car onto its roof - killing his passenger Annalese Bacon, 17 of Taupo, died at the scene.

Robertson, 22, was yesterday sentenced in the Rotorua District Court to three years jail for driving dangerously causing death, driving with excess blood alcohol causing death and driving while suspended.

Annalese died when Robertson crashed the car in which she was a front seat passenger on October 19 on Plateau Rd, Reporoa.

Annalese's mother, Darlene Fiveash, wept as Judge Phillip Cooper sentenced Robertson.

She and around 20 family and friends were in court, a journey she said she struggled to make as every road around Reporoa reminded her of the night she was told Annalese was dead.

"You have stolen the light out of our lives and replaced it with darkness and sadness," she said to Robertson.

"Our family can never be the same again."

She stood, supported by her sons Stephen and Henry, and told Robertson that she didn't believe the news that Annalese had been killed.

"When I went to the funeral home to see if it was true I lost my legs and was in total disbelief that there was my little girl lying on the table, still and cold.

"No chattering, not smiling and no laughing. Her injuries were that bad that I couldn't even lift her head just to hold her one more time."

She said she was on anti-depressant medication and had required help in writing her statement due to feeling physically sick each time she contemplated it.

Her son Henry, who was very close to Annalese despite a four year age gap, had been hospitalised with broken heart syndrome, which presents itself like a heart attack. He was also withdrawn and quiet following Annalese's death.

Robertson had been suspended from driving for three months due to excess demerit points. Judge Cooper said on the day of the crash he and the three passengers had been together at various times drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. His car had a bald tyre down to the steel and he had uncertified modified suspension "which was held in place by plastic cable ties".

Police investigators assessed his speed at the point of impact at 118kmh but the two rear passengers said at times Robertson was driving between 120 and 130km/h.

"You attempted to negotiate a moderate right bend. You lost control of the vehicle and you slid across the centre line."

Robertson was found to have 143 milligrams of alcohol per 100mls of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

After the sentencing, Ms Fiveash said she was devastated with the three-year prison sentence.

"No matter how much time he got in jail it would never be enough to justify a life.

"I was hoping he'd get at least five (years jail)."

But Ms Fiveash was happy Robertson was going to be off the road with a five-year driving suspension, and if he did drive within that time and was caught, he would be sent back to jail.

She said he had never apologised to her family about the crash.

"He has never looked at us. I started off my victim impact statement today by asking him to turn and look at us - her family and friends."

Robertson quickly glimpsed at them, she said.

Annalese had only met Robertson in the week before the crash.

"A perfect stranger killed her," Ms Fiveash said.

Annalese's death had left a hole in her family's hearts and lives, she said.

"I'm not looking forward to tomorrow because tomorrow is a brand new beginning of our lives without her."

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